Humanitarian support for Refugees needs to be more forward thinking.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine has faced the world with an unprecedented situation since World War II, as based on official data released by the United Nations Human Rights Office, the number of people fleeing the conflict has now exceeded four million people, while thousands more have been killed and maimed in the ongoing war.

The number of displaced people within the country due to the ongoing conflict has hit around 6.5 million.

With the conflict continuing, and no end to the Russian aggression in sight in the near future, the European countries are embracing for millions more of Ukrainian refugees, as the conflict has entered its second month.

Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Hungary have hosted most of the displaced Ukrainians. Germany and France have registered 270,000 and 300,000 people, respectively. The UK has issued thousands of visas so far and has opened a new scheme allowing individuals and organizations to sponsor Ukrainian refugees’ entry to the country.

Countries in Europe and America are preparing to host Ukrainians, while they have accepted thousands of Afghans who have also been forced to flee their country in the past seven months.

The significance of welcoming refugees is undebatable, and as seen European governments and people are warmly welcoming the Ukrainians fleeing the conflict.

The more serious task however is on hand after the refugees who comes from different walks of life, and diverse backgrounds, talents and aspirations enter the host countries. That said, the real triumph lies in how hard and serious the host countries can work to integrate these refugees economically, socially, culturally, and politically.

According to the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), the integration of refugees is a two-way process requiring both the refugees to adapt to the new country without withholding their identities and cultures and the host countries to help refugees settle in and meet their needs.

While the immediate priority for now appears to be the provision of safe accommodation; providing employment opportunities for the refugees is of critical importance in successfully integrating them into host countries, based on a study by the Nuffield Foundation.

However, the UNHCR acknowledges that unemployment and underemployment among refugees is out of control. According to a joint study by the Nuffield Foundation and Oxford University, the unemployment rate among refugees and those of refugee backgrounds is four times higher than the national average.

Therefore, it is critical to improve refugees’ integration and provide them with the opportunities to work and thrive.

Early, articulate, comprehensive and sustained interventions to provide employment opportunities will make it easier and quicker for the refugees to integrate in their host countries. That in turn would curb many problems for the host countries that usually comes with the sudden influx of unemployed people.

Contrary to the existing clichés, refugees come from diverse backgrounds, talents, capabilities, skills and gifts, can immensely contribute to the host country’s development and prosperity.

A quick look at UK’s history, one can easily find personalities who came to this

country as refugees and gave back immensely; figures such as Camille Pisarro, Sigmund Freud, Frank Auerback and Arthur Koestler, to name a few.

However, nothing would come easy and many barriers have to be removed first to ensure a rather successful integration and employment for the refugees, in particular those with poor educational backgrounds.

Some of the significant problems facing refugees include a lack of or poor language skills, difficulty in proving educational and professional qualifications, gaps in work background and providing a solid Curriculum Vitae – mainly due to displacement, as well as lack or poor knowledge about the host country and the job markets available.

On the other hand, lengthy immigration processes in most cases, and bureaucracy by the host countries can sometimes be a complicating factor in successful integration of the refugees.

As the ongoing crisis especially in Ukraine and Afghanistan continue to displace hundreds of thousands; a long-term, strategic and compassionate approach towards the refugees; their future and integration can ensure those who flee the war, trauma and persecution can start new lives in which they can hope to thrive.

For that to happen, the host countries need to look beyond providing shelters for refugees, and work alongside other organizations to make integration of refugees a success story.

Categories: